Dorothy and her red red shoes: Being Home
Who doesn’t remember Dorothy clikcing her heels and saying the mantra “There’s no place like home”? As a young girl who had recently moved to the United States from South America in the early 60’s, I lived for the annual showing of how Dorothy found herself back home. I waited for the special parts, the scary teacher flying on her bicycle with the purloined pooch in the back scared me silly.
I held my breath the moment the house was picked up by the hurricane and was spiralted away to another land. The moment it landed with a thud, my heart stood still. All was quiet and everetyhing was in color!
That was the magical moment, when she moved from the back and white world of the orphan in a lonely oupost of the Midwest, to the colorful land of the imagination where all was possible and good and evil were easy to tell apart. There are so many ways to look at this story from the vantage point of depth psychology not the least of which is to see that the world of images and imagination can transform the way we live our life.
Dorothy was a foreigner in a foreign land before she flew off to find her self, the aging aunt and uncle who were kind and loving were not enough to feed her developing self. Without peers, alone in a gray and difficult world, how could she come into relationship with the disparate elements of her own psyche?
Along comes nature to help her. In so many ways, she follows the heroic quest cycle, hearing a call, leaving home, finding helpers and a quest, conquering the dragon and bringing the treasure back home. The treasure, in this case, is her abiity to be in relationship and know herself capable of loving and being loved. She leaves a child and returns a young woman in the pink of health, blood and energy restored to the failing farm.
What I find most enlightening at this point of my life is that Dorothy was able to engage the difficulties of the growing up process not by meeting and befriending strange and alien beasts but rather by re-imaging the familiar faces in her life. She brought the sense of home with her, importing what had been unconscious in her waking life into the inner realm of the imagination. Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man were Hunk, Hickory and Zeke of the farm. I remember watching the end of the movie when they were all around her and she discovers that she really knows them, from the inside out. They were there all along.
Why is this important right now? So many of us have to live away from our homelands, whether by choice or by events beyond our control. There is a part of us that requires the familiar to be able to assimiliate the foreign and the exotic. We may learn the languages and mores and sensibilities of the new places we inhabit, but we do so by connecting with those deeply familiar places we carry internally.
Whether expats in reality, or expatriated from our own native soil through trauma and dis-ease, there is a way to be home within ourselves. We may not have glittery red shoes or magic balloons to bring us home because, as the movie clearly shows us, what we need we have had all along. Sometimes, we just need somone to show us the way.
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Dr. Silvia Behrend is a Certified Pattern Analyst, educator and mentor